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You may have heard that Manny Pacquiao — the homophobic Filipino boxer who opposes same-sex marriage, called gay people “worse than animals” and once blamed a transgender sex worker for her own murder — lost his weekend bout for the world welterweight title. He lost to Jeff Horn, an Australian fighter who dedicated his win to bullied kids, adding that he himself had been called gay and bullied a lot in school. The bullying almost drove Horn to suicide.
“I’m not saying Manny Pacquiao’s a bully or anything,” Horn said after his victory, “but I’m just saying that this is a win for all you guys out there being bullied.”
“I got called ‘gay’ a lot. Words like that shouldn’t hurt me, but I was a kid. It cuts deep, especially when it’s every day. You don’t know how to stop it. Day by day, it takes a bit of you. I know the lows you can feel. I’ve had those feelings, like suicidal thoughts. I can remember some days that I felt that because of the bullying.”
When asked what he thought of Pacquiao’s anti-LGBTQ views, Horn said he was shocked that Pacquiao had voiced such beliefs and added that Pacquiao’s role as a public figure might have made him able to get away with such statements. Horn said, “I don’t really get into that type of thing (making anti-LGBTQ statements). People can do what people want to do. It’s everyone’s own life.”
Nike dropped their sponsorship of Pacquiao after he called gay and lesbian people “worse than animals.”
While it’s great to have a vocal champion like Horn stand in opposition to Pacquiao’s queerphobia, Horn’s weekend victory against Pacquiao was a controversial win by decision. Pacquiao landed far more punches than Horn and boxing analysts from the Entertainment and Sports Programming Network (ESPN) scored the fight in Pacquiao’s favor.
Nevertheless, Pacquiao said of Horn’s win, “He deserves it, no complaint.”
Featured image by Dmytro Aksonov via iStock